State extends public health emergency through Aug. 29

Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced Thursday that the state’s Back On Track Indiana plan will remain paused at stage 4.5 until Aug. 27 and also extended the state’s public health emergency through Aug. 29.

“This virus will take what we give it, so it is incumbent upon us to be on our best behavior, practicing physical distancing, good hygiene, and masking up,” Gov. Holcomb said.

Gov. Holcomb has used data to drive decisions since the state’s first case of the novel coronavirus in early March and he continues to do so. The state will continue to monitor and respond to these four guiding principles:

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide has decreased for 14 days

The state retains its surge capacity for critical care beds and ventilators

The state retains its ability to test all Hoosiers who are COVID-19 symptomatic as well as health care workers, first responders, and frontline employees

Health officials have systems in place to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and expand contact tracing

The executive order also extends the moratorium on evictions from rental properties and the prohibition on filing foreclosures through Aug. 14.

On Monday, Gov. Holcomb’s statewide mask mandate went into effect. Although the initial legal penalties for those who chose not to follow the mandate were dropped, Mayor Richard Strick reminds residents of the importance of following the policy.

“This past week marked the beginning of Gov. Holcomb’s statewide mandatory mask policy for when any Hoosiers are gathered in public spaces. In all honesty, for many of us as Americans we just hate being told what to do and there’s a very real defiant spirit that rises up in us when we think an authority figure is telling us to do something we don’t want to do,” Strick said. “If wearing masks for a few weeks allows us to gain the upper hand on the virus, then we can continue pressing forward as a nation. These next few years will require the best of our courage, compassion and creativity as we continue fighting the ongoing spread, pursue remedies and support each other through the uncertainties of life during a pandemic. The virus is the real enemy that is responsible for disrupting our plans for 2020 and beyond. Let’s keep our defiance determined and focused where it needs to be – fighting COVID-19.”

Following consultation with the Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the mandatory mask order for schools has been modified to allow students to remove masks for classroom instruction when they are able to maintain at least three to six feet of distance between students.

While the state remains in Stage 4.5 of a five-stage reopening “back on track” plan, Strick looked back to a similar outbreak that affected the nation in the 1950s to show that even when the state reopens, there will still be ongoing impacts from COVID-19.

“Our generation in America hasn’t had to face a similarly scaled mandate since the polio outbreaks of the 1950s,” Strick said. “As the director of the Boston Children’s hospital wrote in September of 1955, ‘Hope grows that the end of this epidemic of 1955 may be in sight. … But these things only mean that we are entering a new phase.’ The new phase was dealing with the ongoing impact of the disease after the outbreak.”

The state government capital complex will begin to open to the public on Aug. 17. Hoosiers who need assistance may continue to schedule appointments with agencies in Indianapolis and throughout the state. Many offices, such as the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, are open without an appointment needed.

The Governor also signed an executive order extending the public health emergency an additional 30 days. Local governments may impose more restrictive guidelines.

Both executive orders can be found here: